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In Playing Piano in a Brothel, author Terry Frei follows up on
'77: Denver, the Broncos and a Coming of Age.
As he did in '77 and earlier books, Frei combines reporting,
historical research, memoir, and opinion, taking readers behind
the scenes of some very high-profile events and settings as he
displays his abilities to observe, to explore, and, perhaps most
important, to listen.  
As the son of a longtime major college and National Football
League coach, Frei has a unique perspective of an observer
of sports from several angles. Here, he opens with a blunt and
unsparing assessment of the state of contemporary sports
journalism that might cause some in his business to wince,
but many to nod in emphatic agreement. After establishing
the context, Frei discusses his experiences and the diverse
characters he has encountered since he was a green
sportswriter during that initial Broncos season of glory in
1977. From football, those figures include 2010 Hall of
Fame inductees Jerry Rice and Emmitt Smith; the father-
son combination of Jack and John Elway; and renowned
college coaches Lou Holtz and Nick Saban. In a section that
follows up on his Third Down and a War to Go, Frei tells
the story of two additional World War II-era college football
teams whose players met on the field, then went off to
serve -- many of them in combat, many of them
heroically, andone of them as a trailblazing member of
the Tuskegee Airmen. 
Frei's remembrance of being caught in the 1989 World
Series Earthquake, and especially the characters he 
encountered in San Francisco in the ensuing days of
chaos, will touch readers. His visits to minor-league
baseball outposts -- one,a hardscrabble mining town,
the other the childhood home of one of American's 
renowned novelists -- also echo with a love for the
He also is the rare writer who has extensively covered
both the NBA and NHL, and he includes his reflections
and experiences while chronicling the superstars and 
even the controversial incidents in those leagues. A
frequent visitor to world title fights, Frei takes readers
into the ring with such boxing legends as Muhammad
Ali, Larry Holmes, Mike Tyson, Ray Leonard, Marvin
Hagler, and Thomas Hearns. And he goes behind the
scenes of several Olympic Games, where he encountered
gold medallists, recreational-caliber skiers just hoping
to stay on the course, and even a Catalonian woman
who tended to her beloved stray cats in a famous park
as the marathon passed her by.
Ultimately, Playing Piano in a Brothel is an ode to
sports -- and what they still can be.



From Booklist

Frei is a columnist with the Denver Post, covering the
National Hockey League and college football. Interestingly,
his father was also involved in sports, as the head football
coach at the University of Oregon in the late 1960s and
later as an assistant in the NFL. The title refers to his
mother’s preferred vocation for him—anything but a
sportswriter! He begins with some impassioned thoughts
on the state of sports journalism today and its slavish
adherence to short, obvious, and noninformative articles
with no depth. He then presents a series of articles that
are long, relatively subtle, and quite informative. Subjects
include the far-reaching effect Super Bowl–winning Denver
Bronco quarterback John Elway had on Colorado sports;
a very interesting look at the world of the NFL offensive
lineman; and a look back at the Denver Nuggets of the
mid-1980s and their personality-plus coach, Doug Moe.
Note: the book is not a collection of columns. These
are original pieces assembled from memories of a
lifetime in sports. Here’s hoping Mama Frei is among
the readers. She’ll have to revise her opinion
of sports journalists. --Wes Lukowsky



A Pair of Twos               

We’re Supposed to Be Better Than That         



The Elway Effect       

Haven Moses: A Man of Courage  

“O” Linemen: Breaking the Silence  



Chopper, the Big Stiff, and the Nuggets

Jack Dempsey and Damon Runyon    

Dave Logan: A Man for All Seasons  

Fourth Down and a War to Go

Frank Shorter: Forty-eight Seconds before the Roar  


PART FOUR: DIAMONDS               


The Honeymooners Meet the Boys of Summer

Baseball in the Bushes     



Jerry Rice: Mississippi Yearning  

Emmitt Smith and Thurman Thomas: Hall of Fame Friendship

Michael Irvin: Getting Open               



“There Is a Place Called Nebraska . . . .”

The Team You Love . . .  or Love to Hate: Notre Dame 

First-Year Coach Case Study: Nick Saban



Rocky . . .  Really Rocky . . . Hockey

Avalanche Glory Days: Sakic, Forsberg, Roy and the Stanley Cup 

Click here to read March 26, 1997 excerpt 

Chris Drury and Steve Moore

Click here to read Steve Moore/Todd Bertuzzi excerpt 




Muhammad Ali and the Heavyweights

Leonard vs. Hearns vs. Hagler     



San Marino, My San Marino             

An Opening Stroll       

A French Village and a Pin Trader

The Dream Team and the Marathon Route